Remember snap bracelets (or slap bracelets if that’s what you called them)?
Snap bracelets were like the Huns. No one knew where they came from, and no one knows what happened to them, but when they were here, no one was safe.
A snap bracelet was a long strip of plastic encased in tight fabric, usually with a fancy print of brilliant color. The snap bracelet had two states – straight and curved. Both states were function of the structure of the plastic strip. When you applied pressure to the middle of the plastic strip, it would snap into a curved shape, like a bracelet, with a satisfying snapping sound.
The proper technique was to snap the snap bracelet over one’s wrist. I generally did not wear bracelets or jewelry of any kind, except a Goofy watch with hands that went counterclockwise around a reverse clock face, which I guess was really clockwise within the Goofy-watch frame of reference. But I wore these snap bracelets.
To this day I have no idea what possessed me to collect and wear snap bracelets. Perhaps it was because the snap bracelet was not just a bracelet. Perhaps I saw snap bracelets as accessories of action. Perhaps I saw the snapping action as a symbol of my own ability to snap into action whenever pressure was applied to my middle. Or perhaps it was because everyone else was wearing them.
The snap bracelets transcended gender, economic status and perceived level of coolness. They were our armbands in an age when there was nothing for us to wear armbands for. And adults found them irritating.
I vaguely remember that some schools had banned snap bracelets because of student injuries. I don’t know what kind of snap bracelets were being peddled in those districts. The only injuries the snap bracelets in my school could cause would be a black eye from someone who was not amused by the snapping sound and bright colors. Maybe that was what happened at those schools.
At the bus stop we discussed technique for keeping the curve sharp.
“Last night I put my social studies book on top of it and left it there all night.”
“Interesting. I put mine in the freezer.”
“Why do you guys have to do that? Don’t they stay curved?”
“Obviously you haven’t been using snap bracelets that much. Can your parents not afford them?
And then one day I turned around and the snap bracelets were gone. I never got a chance to say goodbye. I don’t even remember them going out of style. The snap bracelets had just vanished into thin air, never to be seen again, except in my memories and eBay.